The quality of new build homes in the UK is pretty abysmal. There is little to like in terms of appearance, layout and build quality. Major housebuilding companies – Barrat, Wimpey, Fairview et al – rarely show any imagination or initiative when it comes to building new homes.
No matter how poor the quality of a new build though, there is always a willing buyer. This does nothing to encourage developers to lift the standard of housebuilding.
For most of us, buying a house or flat is the single biggest financial purchase of our lives. Why are we so undemanding when it comes to buying our own homes?
It seems the fear of not getting on the property ladder outweighs the fear of buying an inadequate or sub-standard property (or an over-valued one).
The huge growth of the buy-to-let market over the past few years has also changed the dynamics of the housing market. Many new flats, for example, seem built to cater to the buy-to-let investor. These are often small, poky flats selling at exorbitant prices – places you probably wouldn’t want to live in permanently, but might tolerate renting.
To me, the quality of a home is judged by the strength and solidity of its construction, the size and proportion of the rooms, the layout of the property and, of course, how environmentally-friendly the whole structure is. Bottom of my list is whether the kitchen counter tops are made of granite. But this is precisely what descriptions of many properties dwell on – the ‘luxury finish’. An emphasis on fixtures and fittings often seems to be a cover for hiding or minimising other deficiencies in the property.
Why don’t new build property descriptions tell us the height of ceilings in the property? Or provide details of noise insulation (walls, ceilings, windows)? Or the direction or orientation of the house (south, south-west etc.). Or the construction materials used in the build for the walls, floors, windows, doors and roof? Is this asking for too much? No. I’ll repeat again, for most of us, buying a home is the biggest financial outlay of our lives. We should expect so much more.